Marie Seipenko, President and CEO, Preferred Solutions Inc.

Marie SeipenkoSemifinalist, Staffing & Support Services

Working at Preferred Solutions Inc. for 17 years, Marie Seipenko has stamped her unique ideas all over her business, from its products to its unique business strategy designed around customer needs.

Seipenko understands that a company doesn’t have to be big to diverge from the industry norms and try new things. Since becoming president and CEO of the IT staffing company in 2002, she’s taken many steps to differentiate Preferred Solutions from competitors and build its niche in health care IT.

Soon after Seipenko became CEO, the IT market experienced a decline for the first time in years. Seipenko watched as smaller staffing companies merged with each other and others went out of business. Quickly, she realized that Preferred Solutions needed to change directions if it was going to survive in the industry long term.

One of the major changes she made to reshape the company was rejecting the idea that Preferred Solutions should use one form of software or partner with one software company for customers. Instead, she helped organize the business to work with more than 500 service providers, allowing clients to maintain their current IT systems and creating a flexible model for growth.

To position the company uniquely from competitors, she also developed a three-point business strategy: become a tier one vendor (only taking a job if they could work directly with the client), target a completely different industry — health care IT — and hire a topperforming salesperson, despite the expense.

The company also switched to using nurses on the job instead of IT employees to work with hospital customers to increase the comfort level of clients.

Although implementing these ideas was risky, Seipenko’s creativity in developing solutions that add value for Preferred Solutions’ clients has led the company to not only survive but to also successfully grow in the challenging economy.

HOW TO REACH: Preferred Solutions Inc.,